Monday, March 22, 2010

Ground Beef and Tomato Manicotti


• 1 (8-ounce) package uncooked manicotti noodles
• 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
• 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles with garlic, oregano, and basil
• 1 pound lean ground beef
• 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pepper
• 1 teaspoon fennel seed
• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water. Drain.

Process tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in a blender 20 seconds or until smooth. Set aside.

Cook ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Stir in dried Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, fennel seed, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Spoon into manicotti shells; arrange stuffed shells in lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Pour tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let casserole stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle top with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Note: Casserole may be assembled and frozen up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight; bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If you prefer a smaller casserole, use 2 (11- x 7-inch) baking dishes. Proceed as directed

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